World Health Organization partners with Canadian company, Firstline, to deliver Global antimicrobial guidance

Firstline distributes new gold standard WHO guidance on the use of antibiotics

Vancouver, December 8th 2022 – Firstline, the Canadian clinical decision support company, today announced new gold standard clinical guidance from the World Health Organization is distributed on its platform.

For the first time, the WHO has created evidence-based clinical guidance for prescribing antibiotics – the AWaRe Antibiotic Book. The guidance is now available on Firstline, free of charge in all countries. The partnership creates an historic opportunity to improve antibiotic prescribing, reduce antimicrobial resistance, and save millions of lives.

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is an intensifying pandemic, more deadly than Malaria or HIV/AIDS combined, that kills 5 million each year. AMR is made worse by the over-prescription of broad-spectrum or unnecessary antibiotics. Prescribing antibiotics correctly is complex and requires expert knowledge. However, easy access for doctors to that expertise has previously been near-impossible, particularly in resource-limited countries.

Firstline delivers expert, actionable guidance free to prescribers at the point of care via a web and mobile app. The ubiquity of mobile devices, especially in the global South, means mobile apps are by far the most powerful tool for distributing knowledge to the point of care.

Unprecedented access to the WHO guidance in Firstline will combat global AMR by  significantly improving antibiotic prescribing, resulting in better outcomes for millions of patients, and saving healthcare systems vast sums of money.

“Stewardship is an essential component in the global response to AMR, alongside drug discovery and increased access to medicines,” said Dr Clive Ondari, WHO Director of Health Product Policy and Standards. “The AWaRe Antibiotic Book is an important and immediately actionable reference. The app-version on Firstline significantly increases access, and we hope it will be used by prescribers everywhere.”

”Free access to the WHO’s gold standard global guidance through Firstline is a watershed moment for many doctors looking for the best prescribing guidance for antibiotics,” said Mike Long, Firstline Chief Clinical Officer. “National action plans on AMR have existed in many countries for years – but using the WHO’s prescribing guidance is an action that doctors in every country can take today, to play their own part in the fight against AMR and begin to move the needle on AMR.”

The delivery of WHO guidance by Firstline is the culmination of a years-long Canadian success story. The database and initial classification that led to the WHO’s AWaRe categorization of antibiotics was conceived by a team at McMaster University, led by Dr Mark Loeb, a professor and infectious diseases physician. Canada also supported Firstline through R&D investment and facilitation of inter-governmental connections, assisting a small Canadian company to provide service to the United Nations agency.

“This partnership between Firstline and the WHO is a major achievement for Canadian health innovation on the global stage,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Access to the new gold standard guidance through Firstline will help millions of people by combating AMR and making health care systems more efficient. I am proud that the Digital Technology Cluster was instrumental in the success of Firstline’s work. The Global Innovation Clusters continue to catalyze and drive innovation in global health and beyond.”

WHO guidance on the use of antibiotics is available in every country on Firstline today. At stake is nothing less than improved outcomes for hundreds of millions of patients, and the preservation of vital antibiotic medicines for all of humanity.

About Firstline:
Firstline is a health technology company with a mission to help solve humanity’s greatest health challenges by bringing people and knowledge together. This is pursued through web and mobile software that distills and accelerates the flow of expert knowledge to healthcare providers. Firstline facilitates previously impossible levels of knowledge transfer between otherwise disconnected clinical experts everywhere in the world. Leaders in information design and technology, with deep experience communicating vetted clinical guidance to the point of care

About World Health Organization

The WHO AWaRe Antibiotic Book publication was led by the WHO Secretariat of the Expert Committee on Selection and Use of Essential Medicines, Department of Health Product Policy and Standards, as a complement to the Model List of Essential Medicines (EML) and Essential Medicines for Children (EMLc). The EMLs contain the medications considered to be most effective and safe to meet the most important needs in health systems.

Collaboration, Funding & Support

See here for project collaborators and funders including: Digital Supercluster, ISED, One Health Consortium, WHO Collaborating center for Infectious Diseases at McMaster University.

Metro Morning Interview with Michael Long, Co-Founder & Chief Clinical Officer, Firstline


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